Poll Shows That Most People Disapprove of Single Motherhood

The Pew Center’s polls tend to be pretty disturbing (like last summer’s revelation that 1 in 5 Americans think that President Obama is a Muslim), and this latest is no exception: almost seven out of ten Americans, they report, believe that mothers raising children on their own is bad for society.  This is despite the fact that Americans seem to be growing more comfortable with same-sex couples or unmarried couples raising children (the question of single fathers never even seems to get raised).

The poll respondents were divided into three main camps: supporters, rejecters, and skeptics, after being asked their opinion about interracial relationships, unmarried couples living together, mothers with young children going out to work and women not having children.  The supporters said that the changes to the American nuclear family were positive or had no effect on American society.  The rejecters felt that they were detrimental, and the skeptics, who at 37 percent were the largest group, tended to embrace most non-traditional families except single mothers.

The demographic breakdown of the groups, especially the skeptics, was pretty fascinating – they tended to be young, voted Democrat or independent, and were more heavily minority.  A sociologist explained that single motherhood seems to be unique in that even single mothers don’t always see it as a good choice.

“Working mothers are acceptable to almost everybody,” he said. “Two parents who are unmarried are tolerated or acceptable. But many people, including single parents themselves, question single-parent families. There’s still a strong belief that children need two parents.”

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, however, nearly four in ten births are to unmarried women, which means that the numbers of single mothers (or unmarried couples raising children) are rising swiftly.  This means two things: that single motherhood needs to be destigmatized so that people are no longer so hostile to the idea of women (or men, for that matter) raising children alone, but women also need to be given the tools to choose when and how they raise children. 

This means making contraception and abortion affordable and accessible, and improving the sex education in this country so that the decision to have a child is, for every woman, an active choice.  Then perhaps we will have fewer single mothers decrying their own lifestyle, and more acceptance of single-parent families in general.

Photo from Flickr.


jane richmond
jane richmond5 years ago

Single parenthood is not an ideal choice. Some people don't have any options.

Lika S.
Lika S.5 years ago

Granted, it's better with a two parent home, but, in case of an abusive husband or an absentee dad, it's better to leave even under conditions less than ideal. Stability is the key, and single moms CAN do it.

So rather than punish single moms, why don't we blame and punish the dads who helped create these situations?

Chavonne Harvey
Chavonne H.5 years ago

Also how can you blame women, if men aren't cheating on you, their beating you on, your degrading you and leaving you. I mean they do these things a lot of we all know it and you wonder why women choose to be single parents? would you want to raise your child with a man who does those things. It's hard to find a man who doesn't do at least one.

Chavonne Harvey
Chavonne H.5 years ago

Well alot of women don't have a choice in the matter due to deadbeat dads.

Susan T.
Susan T.5 years ago

I repeat, "do unto others as you would haver them do unto you". How about we black talk about two parent, healthy, wealthy, caring parents, that just lost their jobs, their nanny's, their health insurance, their home, car, etc.. Get the picture???? It can happen to YOU! Don't ask why we haven't talked about the men raising the kids, because they don't hardly ever. Most do not even pay the child support. The lower income worker is usually the one who cares about the kids. Don't blame her for societies' head in the sand people, and don't even blame her for her ANGER!

Ainsley Chalmers
Ainsley Chalmers5 years ago

instead of critising single parents we need to support them. life is not perfect and we dont all live in houses with a mum and dad and a white picket fence. it is preferable to live in a single parent house in peace and love than a traditional family where anger and discension abound. the traditional family is the ideal with a loving caring mum and dad but where this is not present then we as grandparents/friends need to help out.

Peter C.
Peter C.5 years ago


L8 @ nyt, my typin is offf the boyle....

Peter C.
Peter C.5 years ago

Just had a thought about the theme of comments....

There are posts about the mistreatment by some of others whose chose different lifestyles... Sadly there will always be those who have to feel superior in society, it is their problem, why make it yours as well? It only adds to your unhappiness.

My posts are on the theme that there are good reasons to avoid being a single parent, and not to promote single parenthood as positive life choice. That promotion based on the assertions of those of strongly held political views? Those strongly held views promote choices in life that can damage others (both the children and fathers). Sadly there are many in politics who propound positions that can be damaging, with a body of research showing how damaging those choices can be. Yet that research is ignored, or suppressed by those with views shown to be damaging by this research. Academe is replete with tales of the pressures researchers who show woman are violent are subject to.

Politics is a very very dirty business, going in directions that are damaging, putting self gain, personal power / notoriety or money first. VAWA is a classic example, domestic abuse is a crime, no matter what the gender of the initiator is, but a bigger crime is to hide that half of abuse is from women, and then to blame the male victims in those situations.

Surely we should be taking the greatest care of children, so that the sins of the mothers are not visited upon the children?

Peter C.
Peter C.5 years ago

Interesting comment Sandra?

Just that I am putting the welfare of children before post separation acrimony?

Because of the secrecy of the family law industry here, I cannot put really any of what happened in my ex family here, not that I would really want to, it would not make ... pleasant reading...
Suffice that the experience with my ex was like no other for me, but I understand it was regular for her. I know now that women can be violent and abusive, my injuries were reported to the family law system, so it may even be illegal to report here that I experienced a number of minor injuries, some with long lasting consequences? She experienced NO injuries from me.

Fortunately now I am in a very loving relationship that is most treasured by both of us.

My problem? Being deprived of half of my parenting experience from a woman whose behaviour would shock most people, except the practitioners of family law for whom it was quite normal. Perhaps more so that:
this abuse of children is so institutionalised,
and there are many many loving fathers whose experience is similar to mine,
there are so many (usually in power) who absolutely refuse to consider the possibility that a woman can be violent and abusive, with it's worst manifestation being the mandatory arrest policy initiated by VAWA, so a husband can be brutally attacked by his wife, and then the Police will arrest him!

When you hurt a child, you hurt the parents
that pain can be more for the parents

Sandra F.
Sandra Frederiks5 years ago

You have a real problem Peter C. and I hope you reach out for help as soon as possible, and stay far far far away from women in the meantime.